I have been dreaming of a garden or potting shed for so long. But if you toured my small backyard and garden you know both are pretty small. I purchased my ranch home near Boulder with the intentional goal of being able to mow under 20 minutes.
Since then, life -- and garden goals -- have changed. My flower and vegetable gardens continue to expand and so has my notion of a practical and charming shed as a place for gardening tools, potting work, garden planning, overwintering plants, and respite.
My current potting situation is a useful bench my husband built for me. (It has served as a drinks station for outdoor parties, too.)
I love this potting bench. It sits against an exterior wall of my home just inside the garden gate. It's in a rare shady spot, which allows me to work in the summer heat of Colorado and which helps to protect new plants before they find their spot in the garden. Bags of potting soil and mulch are piled between the bench and the adjacent fence. During winter, this bench is piled high with terracotta pots, peony cages, support posts, and garden decor. This corner near the house provides natural wind protection during winter, so large potted plants are tucked as tightly into this area as possible to help them overwinter successfully. Tools are typically kept in my garage, which means every time I need something, I have to walk through the gate, around the side of the house, and into the open garage door.
A roofed, walled structure that would allow me to store tools safely and conveniently, overwinter large potted plants safe from the heavy Colorado snowfall, and stock gardening materials and supplies would be ideal. If it were charming, a little bit rustic, and provided a sheltered, shady spot to rest and plan ... well now, that would be especially wonderful.
Your budget (like mine) may not allow for a custom build, so I'm looking for ways to tack onto an existing foundation or wall or to remake a new shed or existing outbuilding. Key to all these designs is generous windows, not just for the inherent charm and airflow, but in order to bring light to any interior plants, particularly those overwintering inside.
Here are a few inspirational images I have been hoarding for a loooong time.
While visiting Fenton House near London last summer, I was charmed by this brick-and-glass potting shed. The design takes advantage of a tall, bricked garden wall. Inside, whitewashed walls are lined with shelves and work surfaces made from stacked bricks and simple planks. Fenton House has an extensive 300-year-old garden and apple orchard, so there's no doubt this potting shed gets lots of use.
Although not shown in these photos, the low brick foundation extends to the left side of the glassed area. This low-walled area is without a roof. Instead, hinged window panels can be raised and latched against the tall brick wall during warm summer days and lowered to protect fragile plants during cold spells.
Brilliant! Do you have a tall exterior wall of your home or an outbuilding that could be put to similar use?
This image from Country Living Magazine is more elaborate, and still so charming. Imagine remaking an existing shed with rows of awning windows like these, and adding a metal roof and beautiful blue door. Keep in mind that not all windows need to be fully operable, which allows for the use of collected windows picked up at flea markets and vintage shops. Image by @bwfoto.
Do yourself a favor and explore the gardens and garden structures at Patina Farm, the wonderful Ojai farm of Brooke and Steve Giannetti. The greenhouse at Patina Farm is a simple wooden frame paneled in what appears to be plexiglass or screens. So much light and plant storage! Screening is likely not an option in cold-weather, snowy climates. Image by @velvetandlinen.
The Worton Organic Garden is tucked away in the Cotswolds near Oxford, England. The cafe and garden store shows that almost any existing structure, if you are lucky enough to have one on your property, can be enhanced with a row of windows and made into a functional and charming garden destination. Image by @houseandgardensuk.
Did you watch the Fixer Upper reveal of Joanna Gaines' garden house? I watched with complete envy! The interior is outfitted with space for gardening books and materials storage, a sink, and a generous table for reading, planning, and entertaining. Read more design details about the garden house and the garden plan on the Magnolia blog.
We are circling back to a design that combines glass and brick, which seems to be my favorite. This image of a greenhouse at the Gardens of Heligan in the UK was captured by @karolinalansmansgarden.
Thanks for reading! If you know of other design options we all should be aware of, please let us know in the comments below.